This is a strategy for boosting traffic and exposure to your site that I came up with on the fly during a recent SPI fan meetup. After sharing it, everyone was pretty stoked about it, so I'm happy to pass it along to you.
Here's what to do, why this will work, and some follow-up notes to help you get the most out of it.
What To Do (in 6 Steps)…
Step 1: Find an Active Forum or Group in Your Niche
To find a forum, you can simply type “forum:keyword” into Google.
To find a Facebook Group, type in Groups Named Keywords in the search bar at the top of Facebook.
To find a LinkedIn Group, switch the search bar to find Groups, and then type keywords related to your niche in the search field.
The bigger the group and more active it is, the better.
Step 2: Contact the Owner of the Forum or Group
For a forum, you may have to search around a little, but typically you can find a contact button on the forum page, or you can locate an admin's profile within a discussion by looking for the word admin or administrator under their name.
Note that an admin of the page isn't necessarily the owner. You can, however, use an admin you make contact with to contact the owner.
On Facebook, click on members, and then use the drop down to find the admin.
On LinkedIn, click through to a group and you can find the owner(s) listed in the info box within that group.
Step 3: Interview the Owner
If you have a podcast, you can invite them to come on your show. If not, an email interview would work too.
I'll share some messages you can send to request the interview, and some sample questions you can ask during the interview later in this post.
To the finale…
Step 4: Publish the Interview
Step 5: Send a Thank You Message and a Link to the Owner of Your Interview
Step 6: Enjoy the Promotion of Your Brand from a Community Leader
Why This Will Work…
Everybody who owns a forum or group is looking for ways to grow, and most (humans) will be happy to talk about themselves.
Giving a group owner an opportunity to highlight his or her community, while also demonstrating leadership and authority is a complete no-brainer for them. As a result of the relationship they have with their members, and the value that they'd be providing for you, it's likely that they are going to share that interview with their community.
Traditional methods of getting in front of someone else's audience, like guest posting, can be difficult. There's a lot involved across both sides, from writing a unique post that would be acceptable to a prospective site owner, to being able to schedule a post within that person's editorial calendar.
Guest posting is a huge deal, which is why it's not always as easy as it sounds.
On forums and groups specifically, self-promotion is typically frowned upon, which is why having someone else (and in this case, the forum owner!) post for you is a much better.
Additionally, depending on the forum owner, you can suspect that they would have some incredible insight and information to share with your audience about your niche as a person who is connected to a whole bunch of other people in the space.
You could even use the interview as a means to validate potential business ideas based on hot topics within the community.
Imagine coming back to that person weeks or months later with a solution to a problem or need that the entire community has.
Instant target audience (the community), and instant potential affiliate (the community owner).
5 Things to Know Before You Start…
You may be getting excited and already searching for groups and communities within your niche.
Great—but keep reading, because there are a few key things to mention before you give this a shot.
1. Not all Forums and Groups are Created Equal
Some communities will be better than others, and it's your job before reaching out to make sure it would be a great fit for you and your brand.
Of course, you want the niches to align. If the discussions happening within the communities aren't ones that you could see potentially happening on your own site, you may be in the wrong place.
Second, you want to make sure the forum is active. When was the last time someone left a comment? How active are the current threads? If it's a ghost town, a promo from an administrator won't do you much good.
Third, try to see how often the group owner gets involved. Perhaps he or she is the most dedicated forum participant, or maybe they just simply own the group and let the others do the talking. The more the owner is actually involved, the more likely the community is to follow along and respond, and the more value the owner would be able to provide in the interview too.
2. Offer The Owner's Community Something in Return
Anything you can do to make it more likely that the owner will share this interview with their community is a plus.
Asking is one thing, but giving is another.
If you have a product or giveaway that you could offer their community, that could go a very long way.
Let's say you're in the fly fishing niche (I don't know why I always choose fly fishing—perhaps it's because it's on my bucket list to do someday), and you have an ebook for sale on Amazon for $4.99 titled DIY Fly: The Ultimate Guide to Tying Your Own Flies.
Make an offer to the forum owner to give away 10 free copies (or more) of your book to their audience. Maybe you make it free for anyone for only 48 hours after the interview is published.
You can be creative here, but a giveaway will help the forum owner stand out even more, as they would also be providing more value to their community at the same time.
And of course, your book should link back to your main site anyway, so it's a win for all.
3. During the Interview, Have the Owner Highlight Members of the Community
Highlighting community members is a great excuse to message those members and make them feel special. Ask questions about the community and any special “stand-outs”, success stories or “power-users”, and you're more likely going to get people within the community to read or listen to the interview and talk about it amongst each other.
4. Ask the Owner to Speak Directly to His Community
Here's a question you should ask during the interview:
If you could ask your group members one thing and get an answer from all of them, what would that question be?
If I had the chance (especially with my voice) to answer this question, I'd definitely share it with my community. As a group owner, it would be a great way to indirectly ask your audience for something.
5. Make Sure it's a Community Your Own Audience Would Benefit from As Well
So far, we've been talking a lot about the forum or group owner, but don't forget about your own audience too! They're the ones who will listen to or read that interview, so you want it to be useful and valuable for them too.
After the interview goes live, with the strategies above, yes—you will get new people coming your way, but you'll also be sharing a new resource with your audience too.
That's why I wouldn't run this style of promotion too often, and I'd make sure that there's value within that community as well.
A Sample Script for Your Message to the Owner
The more I can give to you, the more I know you're likely to take action on this, so please feel free to use the email or message copy below as inspiration when reaching out to forum or group owners.
I recommend that you use this as base-copy while including your own style and voice.
Subject Line (when applicable): Featuring you and [Name of Group or Forum]
Email or Message: Hi [Real name of Person]! My name is [Your Name] and I have a site over at [name or URL of your site] which also helps those interested in [your market or niche].
First, I just wanted to introduce myself and say hi. I'd love to help you out in any way I can. Actually, would you be interested in doing an interview that would be featured on my site about you and your community? I'd love to direct my audience there, and also have them get to know a bit about you, the owner, too.
Let me know what you think. Thanks!
This is short and sweet. There are no details about how the interview will be conducted or when it'll go live or any of that. It's simply an introduction and what's in it for them—a way to get them interested without scaring them off with details.
If you don't get a reply within 48 hours, one additional follow-up message (a quick one-liner) usually does the trick. When reaching out cold to Food Truck owners when launching FoodTruckr.com, for example, it was my follow-up emails that actually received the highest response.
Questions to Ask During the Interview
Whether you conduct an audio interview for your podcast, or simply just send a list of questions for the owner to respond via email, here's a batch of sample questions you can use. Use as many as you'd like and add your own too:
- When did you start your forum/group, and why did you create it?
- What do you feel makes your community special?
- If you could magically give all of your community members one thing in this world, what would it be, and why?
- If you could ask your group members one thing and get an answer from all of them, what would that question be?
- Feel free to give a shout-out to some of your power-users or most active members. Does anyone come to mind, and what do you like most about them?
- What are some of the hot topics that seem to always be discussed within the group?
- For someone new to this community, how do they get the most out of it?
- Has anything surprised you about owning a forum about [niche]?
In addition to the above, don't forget to ask questions that are specific to your niche that would be directly helpful to your existing audience. Tap into this person's brain, and give him an opportunity to show off in front of their community.
Try It Out, and I'll…
If you're going to try this out, let me know in the comment section below. Once you have your interview or post published on your site, please link to it in the comment section. Be sure to bookmark this post so you can easily come back to it.
Your link in the comments will be your entry into a giveaway. I'll randomly select 10 participants and send a $25 Amazon Gift Card to the winners. I'll email the winners on November 22nd, 2014 and add them to the bottom of this post too.
This isn't a formal reader challenge (I know I haven't done one in a while), but I'm happy to get you all to take action again. In 2015, there will be more consistent reader challenges that will get you to take various actions to help grow and monetize your online presence, and give you more opportunities to win stuff from me too.
Cheers, and I look forward to your posts and hearing all about your results!